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How many antitrust law firms does it take to smooth the way for a multibillion-dollar telecommunications merger? John Thorne, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for Verizon Communications Inc., is betting on the number four. That’s how many big-name firms—each with battalions of lawyers—Thorne has hired to help Verizon clear the antitrust review of its bid for MCI Inc. Among their ranks are a former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and two former heads of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Some might interpret the deployment of the team as a sign that Verizon expects a particularly difficult regulatory battle. But Thorne said it merely reflects a desire to get through the review quickly, as well as a recognition by Verizon that a good relationship between its lawyers and regulators at the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission is crucial to smoothing the way. Sharp minds and connections Though Thorne assembled his team before Verizon’s bid for MCI became a bidding war with Qwest Communications International Inc.-and before a hostile bid by Qwest became a distinct possibility-the mere presence of such an influential team might help to win over MCI should it start to have doubts. To the extent that the team enhances Verizon’s chance of securing regulatory approval for the merger, the thinking goes, its bid should look better than Qwest’s. Verizon’s expanded team includes a mix of experts known for their political connections as well as their sharp minds on antitrust matters. The four firms are: O’Melveny & Myers, led by former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Timothy J. Muris, who stepped down last year to return to teaching at George Mason University School of Law. Howrey Simon Arnold & White of Washington, led by Jim Rill, a former U.S. assistant attorney general for antitrust. Appointed by President George H.W. Bush, Rill has a long-standing relationship with William Barr, Verizon’s general counsel. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, led by A. Douglas Melamed, a former acting assistant U.S. attorney general for antitrust who is also known in the broader legal community for his seminal article on property theory with Guido Calabresi (now a judge), “Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral.” Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel of Washington, led by highly regarded litigator Mark Hansen and telecommunications expert Evan Leo.

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